“In order to walk in the door and become a volunteer you have to have an interest in the cause, but a good volunteer requires dedication and commitment,” says Kerry Coleman, Ontario’s nominee for DUC’s national Volunteer of the Year.
“Sometimes people volunteer but they don’t follow up on the tasks they’ve committed to. At the end of the day, you’ve taken something on and you have a commitment to see it through all the way.”
Coleman’s commitment to DUC started with some informal volunteer work. In the 1980s, Coleman worked with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources out of the Tweed, Ont. office. A co-worker was a keen waterfowler who helped organize a DUC event in Madoc, Ont. Coleman attended the event helped out.
“I believe strongly in what DUC is doing. The protection and recreation of habitat is critical, it has always been,” says Coleman. “Especially in parts of southern Ontario, where we’ve lost up to 80 or 90 per cent of wetlands. I’m a very avid hunter and waterfowl hunter, and also enjoy just watching waterfowl. An organization that protects habitat for these animals is important to me.”
A memorable moment for Coleman during his early DUC years was when his youngest son was born the day before the second DUC event he attended. “His birthday was October 1st, and I was a bit late for the dinner because I was visiting my son and wife.”
After a couple years of attending events and informally volunteering, Coleman was officially recruited as a DUC volunteer.
“I knew about DUC before that, I was aware of the good work they were doing and got to know some of their staff,” says Coleman. “In the early years, I was a volunteer on the committee. I would get some sponsors and sell tickets and so on, and certainly help out at the event.”
For the past few years, Coleman has chaired the Rideau-Grenville Banquet committee. They host their events in Kemptville, Ont.
“I’m proud to keep our committee going – we’ve had quite a bit of turnover over the years,” says Coleman. “Our committee went dormant for a short time about 15 years ago. A group of us got it going again. The ability to keep it going, despite everyone having demands for their time is something everyone should be proud of.”
Coleman believes more Canadians should get involved with wetland conservation, regardless of whether they are interested in wildlife or ducks. He says more people need to be aware of the string of benefits wetlands provide, such as floodwater retention and water quality enhancement.
“Just from a human health point of view, I think people should be supportive of DUC,” says Coleman. “A number of recent studies have indicated that if people have natural areas accessible to their communities, these areas provide stress relief. It’s beneficial to everyone to have these natural areas. With all the multiple benefits that wetlands provide – our communities would be poorer.”
Vote Kerry for DUC’s national Volunteer of the Year to celebrate his efforts and show some provincial pride! You can vote once a day until voting closes Friday, April 1, 2016.